Darren J. Carroll (firstname.lastname@example.org) is President and Chief Executive Officer of InnoCentive, which connects a virtual global community of 50,000 qualified scientists with its client companies that are seeking solutions to high‐tech problems. The InnoCentive model allows its customers to tap into inexpensive solvers – scientists residing in Russia, China, India, the EU, or North America– who are uniquely prepared minds. A seeker company – clients such as Procter & Gamble, Dow, Eli Lilly – posts problems anonymously on the InnoCentive Web site. The problem solvers submit solutions. The best one that fits the posted criteria is awarded payment. Confidentiality and integrity of the marketplace are assured. InnoCentive validates the award amount offered by estimating the complexity of the problem, the amount of resources required, and the value of the solution to the seeker company. The value proposition of a third party, like InnoCentive, to be the go‐between for those seeking answers to problems and those providing the answers includes: problem definition assistance; access to a growing network of 50,000 respected scientists; preliminary vetting to screen out ideas that clearly do not meet the criteria. The bottom line – when doing research for new products, the competitive advantage lies in getting to a solution faster, better, and cheaper. And that’s where an open innovation model can help.
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